Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
Four Instagram posts for Klarna:
a. The first Instagram post, seen on influencer @bradders_21’s Instagram page on 28 May 2020, featured a photo of Bradley Harper standing smiling, and dressed in an outfit. The caption stated “AD | @klarna.uk helping me get ready for the day ahead in lockdown and lifting my mood!... using products from @allbeautyhq… Head over to @klarna.uk for a chance to win a £500 beauty bundle or check my stories and swipe up! #KlarnaIt”.
b. The second Instagram post, seen on influencer @clairemenary’s page on 1 April 2020, featured a photo of Claire Menary. The caption stated “[ad w/ @klarna.uk] During these times, it’s the little things that can have a huge impact on boosting your mood. Over the last couple of weeks social distancing, I’ve discovered a love for FaceTiming, making my small flat homely and realising the power of getting dressed and making an effort in the morning - if nothing else, it makes me feel human and like ‘me’ again. And that is a wonderful feeling right now. Thank you @klarna.uk for the simple reminder that getting dressed up can be a total mood booster… #KlarnaIt”.
c. The third Instagram post, seen on influencer @masteramas’ page on 23 May 2020, featured a photo of Aisha Master sitting in a chair with a blue facemask on. The caption stated “AD Good skin has never been more of a focus and keeping up a skincare routine has really helped me lift my mood most days. @klarna.uk has a huge beauty offering, where you can pay in three across a variety of skincare brands. It means you can splurge on this… face mask via @spacenk - just one of Klarna’s beauty retailers… A great investment mask, made easier with @klarna.uk. Brighten up your lockdown days by heading over to their page, they’re giving away a £500 beauty bundle! #klarnait #klarnauk".
d. The final Instagram post, seen on influencer @homeatheathfield’s page on 28 May 2020, featured a photo of Yasmin Fatollahy applying a product to her cheek and holding a mirror. The post stated “Paid partnership with Klarna.uk” and the caption said “HEY LOVELIES! I’ve been keeping a beauty/skincare routine thanks to @klarna.uk in lockdown to help lift my mood! @klarna.uk have made it so easy for me to shop and spread my payments across 3 instalments on products I love! I now have super hydrated and glowy skin that makes me feel so much better about joining work zoom calls… !... Head over to @klarna.uk as you have a chance to win a £500 beauty bundle, which is absolutely fantastic!!! (Check out their post from 19th May or my stories for swipe up link)… To enter all you have to do is:… 1. Follow @klarna.uk… 2. Tag a friend… Good luck… #klarnait #ad”.
Issue1. Stella Creasy MP challenged whether ads (a), (b) and (c) were irresponsible for encouraging the use of Klarna’s deferred payment service to help people lift their low mood during the Covid-19 lockdown. 2. The ASA challenged whether ad (d) was irresponsible for the same reason.
Response1, & 2. Klarna Bank AB (Klarna) said they offered consumers in the UK three payment methods: to pay within 30 days after delivery with no interest or fees (enabling them to return items they did not wish to keep before making payment); through three equal monthly instalments, with a clear repayment schedule and no interest or fees; and through financing, a traditional regulated credit product. Klarna believed the four ads complied with the CAP Code and were not irresponsible, and said the key theme was to take care of one’s self during the Covid-19 lockdown period. They said the ads were intended to highlight that self-care, skincare routines and pampering could be beneficial for improving one’s mental health and staying entertained during the lockdown period. And where references to lifting one’s mood were made, they were in reference to using a beauty product or taking care of one’s self. The posts did not infer that using Klarna lightened one’s mood. Klarna confirmed that the four Instagram posts were the result of a paid engagement with each influencer. In reference to ads (a), (c) and (d), seen on the Instagram pages of @bradders_21, @masteramas and @homeatheathfield, Klarna said they had been working with each respective influencer for a number of months, and the influencers were typically contracted for three months to provide monthly deliverables on a theme determined by Klarna. They said during the Covid-19 lockdown period they were sensitive to the tone of the influencers’ posts, removed all commercial calls to action and asked them to focus on contributing in positive ways to their community. Klarna also highlighted that the call to action in the three posts was not to use Klarna’s services, but to highlight a competition which gave consumers the opportunity to win £500 worth of beauty products. To enter the competition, consumers were asked to follow @Klarna.uk, like the post, and tag a friend, and there was no requirement to make a purchase through Klarna in order to enter. Regarding Instagram ad (b) on @clairemenary’s Instagram page, Klarna highlighted that the content of the post focused on small actions people could take to improve their mood during the Covid-19 lockdown, such as facetiming, making your flat homely, getting dressed and making an effort in the morning. They said that those actions did not involve Klarna or making a purchase. Additionally, Klarna acknowledged that the use of “#KlarnaIt” in the ads could have been misinterpreted as encouraging people to use their products, but said that whilst it was a standard hashtag at the beginning of the year, it had been discontinued in advertising before Klarna were notified of the complaint, because it no longer met their business objectives. Bradley Harper said in relation to ad (a) that his aim within the post itself, was to highlight how maintaining a regular facial cleansing routine can lift your mood during lockdown, with an emphasis on having a daily routine that can start your day and give you a purpose. He believed that his post highlighted that the products bought from @allbeautyhq via Klarna created this lift in mood, and not the use of Klarna itself. Claire Menary said in relation to ad (b) that in mid-March she was asked to share her personal experience of how she was dealing with isolation, social distancing and working from home. There was to be a connection to Klarna, however, she believed the brief reflected a simple brand name awareness activity, which was to introduce her followers to Klarna whilst being sensitive to the climate at the time. Claire Menary said that whilst she had referred to Klarna and also to mood boosting, the post had not insinuated that shopping through Klarna’s services helped people to lift their moods during the global pandemic. She said that was not the intention of her caption, and she did not believe that a reasonable person would deduce such an inference. She said the term ‘mood boosting’ in her post referred to getting properly dressed and regaining some sense of normality, in a very unusual and unsettling time for the entire world, and the reference to Klarna meant the next step for a potential consumer would be to decide whether they wanted to learn more about Klarna before using their services. Aisha Master said in relation to ad (c) that she did not consider her post encouraged irresponsible use of Klarna, and the post did not contain any encouragement for making purchases to lift one’s mood during lockdown. She said she mentioned heading to Klarna’s page to enter a free giveaway for a beauty bundle in the post, and any text published as part of the ad was posted only after full approval of all content by Klarna. Yasmin Fatollahy said in relation to ad (d) that she believed the post did not infer directly or indirectly that the use of Klarna’s service would resolve or help any mental health issues that had arisen as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown. She said the post did not explicitly state that it was the use of Klarna that lifted her mood, but rather the use of the beauty products purchased via their service. She highlighted there were various ways for consumers to purchase the products via other means, and the caption did not suggest otherwise or direct consumers to use Klarna’s service unnecessarily. She also said the post did not target consumers or members of society who may have been experiencing a low mood, but rather it was written in an entirely positive light, in keeping with the general narrative found throughout her Instagram account.
Assessment1. & 2. Upheld The ASA understood that Klarna’s deferred payment service was a form of credit which allowed for payments of purchases to be made within 30 days, or via monthly instalments over the course of three months, without interest or fees. The four ads appeared in April and May 2020 in the context of the national restrictions due to Covid-19, and all made references to purchasing beauty or clothing items to help with “lifting” or “boosting” one’s mood during the pandemic and lockdown, in association with Klarna. We acknowledged that purchasing non-essential items was likely to be a source of comfort for some people during the national lockdown. However, each ad promoted the use of Klarna’s deferred payment services, and we considered that the respective influencers had linked buying beauty or clothing products through this service with enhancing their mood during an uncertain and challenging period, when many people were experiencing difficult circumstances and isolation during the lockdown, including financial concerns and mental health problems. Ad (a) by @bradders_21 stated “@klarna.uk helping me get ready for the day ahead in lockdown and lifting my mood!”, while the caption for ad (d), by @homeatheathfield, said “I’ve been keeping a beauty/skincare routine thanks to @klarna.uk in lockdown to help lift my mood! @klarna.uk have made it so easy for me to shop and spread my payments across 3 instalments on products I love!”. We considered that both posts, which also ended with the statement “#KlarnaIt”, explicitly suggested that the use of Klarna’s services could assist in lifting one’s mood in the lockdown. Additionally, ad (c) by @masteramas promoted a facemask from Space NK which was priced at £139, and referred to the product as a “great investment mask, made easier with @klarna.uk”. We considered that this ad encouraged consumers to purchase a relatively expensive beauty item which was likely to go beyond the usual spending habits of many. In particular we considered the statement “keeping up a skincare routine has really helped me lift my mood most days. @klarna.uk has a huge beauty offering, where you can pay in three across a variety of skincare brands. It means you can splurge on this”, encouraged the use of Klarna’s deferred payment service to “splurge” on the product, and also explicitly linked this with helping to lift one’s mood at the time. Furthermore ad (b), by @clairemenary, stated “During these times, it’s the little things that can have a huge impact on boosting your mood”, including “the power of getting dressed and making an effort in the morning”. We considered that the tone of the post, which said “if nothing else, it makes me feel human and like ‘me’ again. And that is a wonderful feeling right now”, was emotive in relation to feeling better during the restrictions at the time. The final sentence of the caption then linked the use of Klarna with boosting one’s mood in lockdown: “Thank you @klarna.uk for the simple reminder that getting dressed up can be a total mood booster… #KlarnaIt”. Although the captions in ads (a), (c) and (d) all referred to a competition for free beauty products which did not require any purchase in order to enter, we considered that the competition was not the primary focus of those posts, and therefore its inclusion did not significantly change the overall message of each ad. We also noted that references to the competition were followed by the call to action “#KlarnaIt”. We concluded that in the context of the challenging circumstances caused by the lockdown at the time, including impacts on people’s financial and mental health, the ads irresponsibly encouraged the use of credit to improve people’s mood. The ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 1.3 Advertisements must comply with the law and broadcasters must make that a condition of acceptance. (Social responsibility).
The ads must not appear again in its current form. We told Klarna Bank AB, and influencers Bradley Harper, Claire Menary, Aisha Master and Yasmin Fatollahy, that their future advertising must not irresponsibly encourage the use of Klarna’s deferred payment service, particularly by linking it with lifting or boosting mood.